Matthews’ dismissal was the 67th time a batsman has been out for 99 in Test cricket, and the 14th time one has missed out on three-figure glory by virtue of being run out. Fourteen out of 67 – this is an extraordinary ratio which illustrated the madness that can envelop the human soul when the tastily steaming baguette of personal triumph is within nibbling distance. Also, 20.9% of batsmen out for 99 have been run out – yet of the 59,237 Test dismissals that had occurred as of 5pm GMT on December 3, 2009, only 3.5% have been run-outs.
Batsmen on 99 are thus six times more likely to run themselves out (or, perhaps, have a sadistic team-mate run them out), than batsmen who aren’t already mentally picturing charging around with their arms in the air, kissing their helmets, waving their bats at any available camera, and cuddling the non-striking batsman.
There are statistics and there are statistics. And this statistic reveals the inherent nature of the human condition, and the potentially fatal pitfalls of personal ambition, as much as any play by Shakespeare. Arguably. Expect it to be on all school curriculums around the cricket-speaking world within months.